The quest to hunt big mule deer often begins on what state and area to go. While a big mule deer is in the eyes of the beholder. I am referring to deer scoring over 180 Boone and Crocket points as a benchmark. There are a lot of factors that play into where to hunt them. It is often prudent in the planning stage to put in for draws that may take several years to gather enough points to draw. If you are after these record book type bucks you need to research which areas contain these type bucks. One place to start is the Boone and Crocket and Pope and Young record books. These each paint a picture of what areas hold these bucks. They list by state and county. They often paint a view on what the bucks are like; some areas have non-typical genes; other areas produce more typical’s. The county listing is very helpful as you can almost narrow it down to the unit. For instance, New Mexico has 19 typical’s over 190 entered in Boone and crocket since 2010 of those 12 came from the same county. Many states have record books, and obtaining these can give you valuable information in your quest. If you have a record book animal as your goal, you may not want to spend years trying to draw areas that don’t seem to hold these bucks. Just because an area doesn’t have bucks entered in a record book doesn’t mean it can’t produce these type bucks. Other research can lead you on a path in the right direction. I have found areas that do not have any bucks entered in the books that hold outstanding bucks, including some that I know would go book. Some areas I have found have bucks that have trash not quite enough to make the record book as nontypical and having enough trash to keep them out of the typical record book. Getting out and scouting hopeful country is a way I have found outlier areas that hold big bucks. Talking to locals and looking at photos from big bucks or checking out contests can lead to outlier areas. Nowadays, with social media, it is easier than ever to see pictures of big bucks. These are usually posted at a much higher percentage than actual bucks entered in the record books. Most areas don’t fall out of this outlier. However, my eyes and ears are always looking and listening for clues anywhere I am, and it pays off. For now, I plan on keeping these spots to myself.
One thing to keep in mind when looking in the record books is more recent data. Some areas rank high in the record books but haven’t produced much in recent years. Many of these areas were great during the heyday. But popularity along with management practices has limited the age class of deer so much they aren’t there anymore. This can work both ways; for instance, a number of years ago, Colorado implemented a draw system for mule deer limiting tags and since has blown the record books up; by far and away from the top producer of trophy mule deer in the world. Also, keep your eye out for bad winters as these can wreck the best areas for years afterward. For instance, Idaho and Wyoming started the last decade with a good number of record book bucks however they had a bad winter in 16-17 and both have hardly produced anything since.
The top mule deer states from 2010 to 2019 Typical bucks over 180 and 190 for all-time record book.
Typical mule deer
# 7 Mexico
#9 New Mexico
190 and over
# 7 Mexico
#9 New Mexico
230 and over
Hope these statistics help you to plan your next Trophy Mule Deer Hunt with Legacy Outdoors.